Category Archives: Veteran Reflection

Markings of a Citizen

I apologize for not keeping up with my regular Tuesday schedule of postings. I’ve had some difficulties in maintaining any semblance of consistency this last month.  Both good and bad.

This adventure marks the international and public premiere of the DRONE Documentary by Tonje Hessen Schei under the Norwegian company Flimmer Film.  Our first showing was in Oslo, to the people who helped support the film.  We next went to Copenhagen for CPH:DOX and I had a media whirlwind. The final destination was IDFA in Amsterdam, the largest independent film festival in Europe. All told, it was an incredibly eye opening and wonderful experience. But here is what I think people have been waiting for:  My Review of CitizenFour, Laura Poitras’ amazing documentary about Edward Snowden’s rise to wonderful infamy for doing the right thing in the face of losing everything.

I guess right there you’ve got it.  My respect for Mr. Snowden only deepened into the bowels of the earth.  I’ll give no spoilers other than to give you my reflections on the matter how this relates to myself.  Especially since quite a few people make the comparison almost daily in my life.  Or at least in my public star life that I dislike ever so much.

I saw the gravity of the whole situation.  The huge amount of trust that Edward had to make towards Glenn Greenwald and Laura to be able to get the information out in a right way by adhering to the CHARACTERS that Mr. Greenwald and Ms. Poitras have consistently portrayed with immense integrity.  More so the fact that Glenn and Laura had no idea who Mr. Snowden was or if he was even telling the truth.  In typical spy-novel fashion, Ed could have been the bait to trap some journalists being thorns in somebody’s side.

It was like watching a film in like fashion of my favorite novels.  A hero deals with an overwhelming enemy by recruiting two of the top reporters in the world and giving them information that will help future generations to combat this enemy and not become it.  The hero leaves his love behind knowing that what he does is important for our species to survive. In that, his own comforts mean nothing.  He gains great honor.  People revere him for generations as a man who gave up everything for doing the right thing.

Ed, Chelsea, Julian, William, and many more deserve your heartfelt thanks for doing what they have done at great cost to themselves with no personal gain.  They should be our generation’s heroes, and if they are not then they will be the next’s.  It’s a thing we should at least encourage.

But where do I fit in?  I don’t, really.  I wouldn’t even count myself among anyone other than those that seek redemption.  And while I may be talking about spiritually, it really comes down to: can I bring about enough goodness to counter the destruction I helped perpetuate in this world?  Too many of my former friends, colleagues, family, and acquaintances would say to just “ask god to forgive you then everything will be right.”

But I am a warrior and my god is Honor.  What we participated in the drone program  is, by my estimate, one of the most dishonorable things any member of our species could participate in.  And the people reflected that dishonor.  Here is where my difference comes in.

I knew it.  And like a coward I ran from from it.  I didn’t stand up and do the right thing because I was too scared and browbeaten by my previous employers to do so.  I ran into another job with great hope that I would reap some honor from my service by helping others “Return with Honor.”  And when I was injured I desperately tried to hang on by telling everyone I was okay.  I nearly killed myself because that would have been better, to die while in service to my country, than to have to live with the headspace I created while in the drone program.

And the last thing I remember was asking the universe to forgive my crimes against its creation, that if there was any way I could balance it out in this lifetime to give me the chance or to cast me off to oblivion.  And I asked for Honor to forgive its wayward son.

Next thing I know it’s months later and I’m throwing a temper tantrum in a VA office for fucking up my appointment.  So I knew that I was cursed to this existence for my crimes.  I was cursed with this pain and heartache.  That I was cursed to walk this path because I can endure great pain.

That is what makes me different than those individuals of great love for humanity.  They did it out of obligation to themselves.  To do the right thing, to be aligned with their humanly purpose of progressing our species towards universal betterment.  I ran.  I tried to hide behind flimsy excuses and a flag that has brought terror to nearly all the world.  I am blessed to even have this chance to share my experiences with you. I believe that we can change for the better and with PROJECT Red Hand that will be my way to help make it possible.  All of this is the reasoning why I try so hard because I made these mistakes and I want no one to have to go through what I experienced.  And I want others to know that it is never too late to do the right thing.

I feel honored to have talked to many of you.  Thank you for giving your time and energy to me.

Please, let’s honor the truth speakers in our world.  They truly are worth more to us as a species than we’ll know in our lifetimes.  And that’s why Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning have the markings of true citizens.

December 9th 2014

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Written by Brandon Bryant